Remote workers and digital nomads alike have crisscrossed the globe, logging in hours from some interesting (and challenging) locales. It’s both a boon and a blunder for companies operating at 50% remote or more. While their talent pool may not be geographically bound, when it comes to productivity from a distance, it turns out that location indeed still matters.
We asked some of the top remote-friendly companies to share their best and worst places to work remotely for productive—or not-so-productive—workdays. Here’s what they told us:
Worst Places—Dial “I” for Internet
From chic hotel lobbies to airplanes and everything in between, when it comes to maximizing productivity while maintaining that cubicle-free existence, one thing remains gospel: thou shalt have a solid Internet connection. Just take these oh-so woe-some tales, for instance.
- Hands down, the pinnacle of poor Internet tales comes from Aaron Bright, M.D., CEO and co-founder of Hippo Education. While on vacation with his family in a lake house they’d rented, he worked out of the kitchen. Sounds ok, right? Except that his laptop was balanced on the microwave two inches from an antique router, while his children ran screaming past him…for three days. Bright admits that it was not “an ideal space. But, I still liked it better than cubicle days of old.” Duly noted.
- A close second comes from Carrie McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, who’d moved during the rainy season into a house in Mas (outside of Ubud, Bali) with a weak Internet line that failed seemingly every time it rained. She would carefully schedule remote team meetings only to have the connection get dodgy halfway through. You can make contingency plans for many aspects of remote work, but sadly, you cannot control the weather!
Airport floors, public restrooms, rental cars, and even the beach (screen glare, anyone?) are other spots that have topped the list for worst places to work.
Best Places—A Room with a View
Location independence isn’t all rainstorms, germy spaces, and screaming children, though. Not surprisingly, exotic beaches and airy coworking spaces are frequent chart-toppers for the best places to work. However, many location independent pros have found solace—and plenty of productivity inspiration—in less obvious places, too.
- Teleport CEO Sten Tamkivi has fond memories of Pacific Ocean views from both Santa Monica and Maui, but he says the best remote work experience took place at his summer house on the Baltic Sea. He worked over 4G (yes, 4G!) while slow-cooking a leg of lamb in his outdoor smoker…for six hours. (Totally understandable that slow food has caught on as a movement, but slow Wi-Fi likely will not.)
- The remote design team at Melewi has compiled a whole list of awe-inspiring places from which they’ve worked, including the inviting infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, a wintry ski slope in Japan, and right next to the Sydney Opera House with a view of the city’s iconic Harbour Bridge!
When considering ideal remote workspaces, it’s clear that Internet connection isn’t the sole important criterion (though it surely must rank highly on a revised hierarchy of needs).
Sometimes, despite the strongest of signals, your surroundings just aren’t working for you. It really boils down to wherever you can be the most inspired and most productive. Usually that’s a cozy home office that’s set up exactly to your specifications…and every so often, it’s on a boat in rural Vietnam.
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